Ill-Prepared for the Labour Market: Health Status in a Sample of Single Mothers on Welfare

By Worth, Heather B.; McMillan, Karen E. | Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Ill-Prepared for the Labour Market: Health Status in a Sample of Single Mothers on Welfare


Worth, Heather B., McMillan, Karen E., Social Policy Journal of New Zealand


Abstract

This paper present the results of a survey of the health of a group of lone mothers receiving the Domestic Purposes Benefit who were not exempt from work test for any reasons related to their health, to introduce a discussion of the potential ramifications of work activation policy for the health and wellbeing of lone mothers on welfare. The survey data indicate that the self-reported health status of those women who took part in the survey is very low in comparison with national data for New Zealand women. The results not only bring into question the basis on which fitness for work is assessed by welfare agencies, but, perhaps more importantly, necessitate a consideration of the potential of work activation policies to exacerbate the discrepancy in health outcomes between lone mothers and the rest of the population.

INTRODUCTION

An increasing insistence on welfare support being attached to conditions of work training and readiness has been accompanied by a discourse that both emphasises individualised notions of responsibility, and views this responsibility as a marker of a good relationship between all citizens and the state. "Welfare to work" or "activation" policies targeting sole mothers are also promoted on the grounds that the transition from welfare receipt to paid employment will be good for the state as well as good for the women themselves.

While impediments to sole mothers' participation in the labour market are recognised, the framing of those terms is usually limited to the discussion of financial barriers and lack of child support. The extremely poor health status of sole mothers in particular, and long-term welfare recipients in general, is given inadequate consideration. The most recent discussion of sole-parent employment patterns in New Zealand (Goodger and Larose 1999), for instance, does not mention that health status may be a contributory factor.

The existence of persisting health inequalities in New Zealand has been clearly documented (Pomare 1995, Ministry of Health 1999a, Howden-Chapman and Tobias 2000). Poor health outcomes are not only associated with unemployment, low income, and low levels of education, but the evidence that the health experience of New Zealanders is divided along ethnic lines has been steadily accruing over the past 20 years (Pomare 1995, Howden-Chapman and Tobias 2000, Te Puni K6kiri 2000). The National Advisory Committee on Health and Disability has concluded that income is the single most important determinant of health in New Zealand (National Health Committee 1998). The current government has provided official recognition that the gap between rich and poor, measured in terms of a variety of economic and social, educational and health indicators, has been steadily widening. Moreover, these disparities are at risk of becoming firmly entrenched. (2)

While New Zealand women continue to have a higher life expectancy than men, they are more likely than men to experience or report more long-term illness or disability such as depression, arthritis and diabetes, poorer mental health, and higher access to health and disability services. The poorest health is likely to be experienced by women on low incomes and of low socio-economic status, particularly Maori and Pacific women (Ministry of Women's Affairs 1999).

The data gathered by the New Zealand Ministry of Health's Taking the Pulse: The 1996/7 New Zealand Health Survey (using the SF-36 health status questionnaire, which is discussed later in this paper) indicate that women scored slightly (but statistically significantly) lower on all scales of self-reported health except general health. The differences were more pronounced for scales more closely associated with mental health. Further analysis of that data (Sarfati and Scott 2001) clearly identifies lone mothers as a vulnerable group in need of special consideration if inequalities in health are to be addressed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ill-Prepared for the Labour Market: Health Status in a Sample of Single Mothers on Welfare
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.